Peter Tucker holding the team’s jersey, circa 1971, surrounded by other Gold Rats memorabilia.
Peter Tucker could never have known that his first season as head coach with Lismore Teachers College Rugby Union Club would yield an unlikely premiership.
And of course the 15-12 victory in Far North Coast Rugby Union’s 1971 premiership would coincidentally come against the club he was still serving as a committee man: Lismore City.
Tucker, now a retired school teacher, still fondly recalls the premiership and he will be a special guest at the Southern Cross University Rugby Club’s 50th Season Reunion to be held on 13 July 2019.
“Of course I was pretty thrilled,” Tucker said.
“I had coached many school boy sides over the years but it was the first A-grade senior side I had ever coached to a premiership. I recall it was a tight game and Tom Mooney snatched an intercept and ran three-quarters of the field to score. That try broke the game in College’s favour.”
Mooney would go on to play rugby league for South Sydney and Manly where he became a premiership winner and top try-scorer.
Teacher’s College Rugby was founded in 1970, and remained College through the incarnations of Northern Rivers College of Advanced Education and the University of New England Northern Rivers. It was only when the institution was changed to Southern Cross University that the club changed its name to SCU Rugby Club.
“I had been involved in helping establish Lismore Rugby Club in 1968 and the zone was keen to have more teams,” Tucker said.
“I was doing some lecturing at the Teachers College and Jim Porter, an art lecturer, told me College had a potentially top side but he knew nothing about the game, because he was a soccer man.
“He knew I was a rugby man and he asked me to help out and I thought I should do my bit.
“College was a very good team mainly made of players who had no previous rugby experience, having played only rugby league in the past. I think there were only two players who had played rugby before. It was pretty clear they had no idea what a ruck was when we first started training.”
Tucker insists there were no difficult conversations at Lismore City committee meetings despite coaching the club that would ultimately win the premiership and go on to become City’s arch rival.
His loyalties will again be tested on 13 July 2019 when the reunion is held at Maurie Ryan Oval at Southern Cross University. The scheduled Far North Coast Rugby Union game will see the Gold Rats play his beloved Lismore City as part of the celebrations.
From those humble beginnings of playing at various fields including Lismore High School ground, the Gold Rats now boast the best facilities in the zone for playing and watching rugby at their home ground the Maurie Ryan Oval.
Over its 50 seasons, three former Gold Rats players – Richard Tombs, Justin Harrison and Henry Vanderglas – have gone on to represent Australia, while many more have played or coached at higher levels.
Book tickets to the Southern Cross University Rugby Club’s 50th Season Reunion